The answer to your prayers, this protein makes cells burn more fat

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fat burn, sarcolipin, muscle cell protein
Woman with measuring tape on waist

Sarcolipin, a small peptide molecule only found in muscles, tricks those cells into using more energy, burning fat

If you have been trying to lose fat, unsuccessfully, then here’s the answer to your prayers.

New research has shown that sarcolipin, a small peptide (protein) only found in muscles, increases muscle energy expenditure and fat oxidation in response to exercise or cold. Scientists found sarcolipin forces muscle to use more energy to move calcium by interacting with calcium ion transporter SERCA and making it less efficient. This drives mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell, the seat of all its energy production) to produce extra energy by burning more fat.

“This study shows a direct relationship between sarcolipin and energy metabolism. This mechanism is intrinsic to muscle and generates heat at the expense of fat burning,” says Muthu Periasamy, senior author of the paper and professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), Lake Nona.”

In response to exercise or cold, muscle cells intensify calcium cycling and recruit SERCA to move calcium ions into the sarcoplasmic reticulum, a structure within muscle cells that balances calcium levels. This process uses a lot of (ATP) energy because SERCA relies on ATP to move calcium. When sarcolipin binds to SERCA, it uncouples SERCA activity. As a result, it allows ATP consumption but not efficient calcium transport, which causes more energy consumption. The net result is more heat and fat burning.

“When we feed mice with more sarcolipin a high-fat diet, they don’t accumulate any fat in their muscle, and they don’t develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes”

In the study, the team found that animals without sarcolipin had fewer mitochondria and had trouble burning fat, accumulating more in their muscle, which is a common cause of insulin resistance. However, those with more sarcolipin boosted their concentration of mitochondria and showed increased fat oxidation.

“When we feed mice with more sarcolipin a high-fat diet, they don’t accumulate any fat in their muscle, and they don’t develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes,” says Santosh Maurya, first author of the paper.

“Researchers have already shown that extreme obesity reduces sarcolipin function. There might be a therapeutic window to increase sarcolipin recruitment to burn more energy. This strategy could help people with metabolic conditions, as well as those who have difficulty exercising,” said Periasamy.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

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